Supporting Youth Work

Status: Ongoing


Youth work is delivered by organisations in both the statutory and community and voluntary sectors in Ireland. Organisations work with young people both inside and outside the formal education system. The Youth Affairs Unit within the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) is responsible for promoting the development of youth services and provides funding for a range of youth services around the country. 

Research internationally and in Ireland shows that youth work can make a valuable contribution to outcomes for young people. Youth work can help young people to develop better relationships with others and a sense of self, to get involved in community and society, to improve their health and well-being, to develop values and beliefs, and to engage with formal education and training.

In January 2011, DCYA launched The National Quality Standards Framework for Youth Work. The Framework is a tool which aims to ensure that youth work organisations provide quality services with and for young people. The framework also aims to articulate the practice of youth work through the development of a common language.

CES is working closely with the Youth Affairs Unit to improve the quality of, and outcomes from, youth work through the use of evidence informed practice. CES collaborates closely with national and local organisations in the sector to support them to develop their practice.

Overview of CES work

CES’s work with the Youth Affairs Unit in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs is concentrated in three main areas:

1. Implementation of the National Quality Standards Framework for Youth Work. 

CES has developed and delivered training and resources for youth workers to help them to implement the framework. Training has been delivered in a range of locations around the country, and an online ‘Route Map’ was developed to help organisations to locate tools, research and methods to use in their work. CES has also organised events and seminars which allow for learning between youth workers, on issues relevant to youth work.

Youth workers identified a gap between the theory and practice of youth work, and in response CES produced Ideas in Action in Youth Work; a two part publication – Youth work in Theory and Youth Work in Practice. In collaboration with the City of Dublin Youth Service Board, and Youth Work Ireland, CES has provided training in the use of the resource for youth work organisations.

As part of its commitment to an evidence informed approach, CES also plans to support the Youth Affairs Unit to improve outcomes measurement in the youth work sector.

2. DCYA Value for Money and Policy Review of Youth Programmes

In 2015, CES assisted DCYA by conducting a literature review to inform the Value for Money and Policy Review of Youth Programmes. CES will also support the Department in addressing some of the findings of the review.

3. Development of the National Youth Strategy

CES assisted DCYA in the development of the National Youth Strategy, which was launched in October 2015. CES’s role involved an evidence review to inform the strategy, as well as preparation of the strategy itself, and assistance with the national consultation events with young people. CES participated in the National Youth Strategy Task Group, which included DCYA staff along with representatives of youth NGOs. The Task Group coordinated an extensive consultation process to inform the development of the strategy. CES will continue to provide support in the implementation phase of the strategy.

CES was involved in the development of the Youth Employment Initiative which was launched alongside the strategy. CES assisted with the design of the initiative, and will support implementation of the initiative and help projects funded to evaluate their impact.